Monday, July 26, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Abijah Fanklin Hitchings Obituaries

Obituaries (on file at the Harmony Grove Cemetery, Salem)
May 20, 1910
Newspapers unknown
Abijah Franklin Hitchings was my 2x great grandfather


Was Deputy Collector of the Port of Beverly and Salem for Many Years

A. Frank Hitchings, deputy collector of customs for the district of Salem and Beverly, died at his home, 8 Bentley Street, last night. He was born in Salem, was the son of the late Abijah and Eliza (Treadwell) Hitchings, and was in his 69th year. He was educated in the Salem public schools, and afterwards worked at shoe making. He was one of the original minute men, enlisting as a boy of 19 years, in the old Salem Zouaves. Company J, Eighth regiment, M.V.M., Capt. Arthur F. Devereaux, and serving until discharged August 1, 1861. He re-enlisted as a sergeant in Company H., 19th Massachusetts regiment, and was discharged July 25, 1863 on account of wounds received at the battle of Fredricksburg. He joined Post 34, G.A.R., May 17, 1869.

Nov. 19, 1873 Mr. Hitchings was appointed an inspector in the Salem Custom house and assigned to duty as clerk. June 3, 1881, he was promoted to deputy collector, succeeding Col. J. Frank Dalton, who resigned May 7, 1881, to become postmaster of Salem. Mr. Hitchings has held the position of deputy collector ever since. He was a fine penman, very careful and methodical in everything that he did, and was a valuable government official. In connection with Stephen W. Phillips he prepared for publication by the Essex Institute the official register of all Salem vessels of which any record could be found in the Salem Custom house, a work which is extremely valuable today. He was a member of the Essex Institute. He possessed a fund of valuable information of Salem's early history, gleaned from his long service in the custom house.

Mr. Hitchings leaves a widow, a son, a daughter, and grandchildren.


May 23, 1910
A. Frank Hitchings

The funeral of Deputy Collector of Customs A. Frank Hitchings was held at his late home, 8 Bentley Street, yesterday afternoon. Rev. Charles H. Puffer, D. D., and Rev. Alfred Manchester officiated, and there was a very large attendance, including comrades of Post 34, G.A.R., the old Salem Zouaves, Collector of Customs David M. Little, and past and present Custom house officials, and many prominent citizens. The G. A. R. service was conducted by Commander J. Frank Dalton, Chaplain William I. Arvedson, S.V.C. Eben S. Perkins, O.D.,John C. Grover, Adjutant Everett E. Austin and Patriotic Instructor Charles H. Frye of Post 34.

The honorary pallbearers were Hon. David M. Little, William J. Sullivan, Daniel F. Connolly and I.P. Hanscomb of the Custom house force, and the active bearers were Capt. John R. Lakeman, Charles P. Luscomb, Joseph A. Perkins, and Henry Symonds of the Salem Zouaves and all members of Post 34. The floral tributes were profuse and beautiful. Burial was at Harmony Grove cemetery.

Mr. Hitchings was born in Salem, the son of Abijah and Eliza (Treadwell) Hitchings, and was in his 69th year. He was educated in the Salem public schools, graduating from the High school. He afterwards learned the sailmaker's trade, and was an apprentice when the Civil war broke out, when he enlisted as private in the old Salem Zouaves, Company J., Eighth Massachusetts regiment, Capt. Charles U. Devereaux, and Col. Edward H. Hincks, October 25, 1861, and served until discharged on account of disability from wounds July 25, 1863.

Passed through all the trials and hardships of the Fighting 19th, he took part in all the battles of the Peninsula campaign, some of them particularly severe, notably Antietam and Fredricksburg. Wounded on the third day of the battle Fredricksburg by a gun shot in the left leg, he was carried to a church in Fredricksburg where the bullet was extracted, and from there to the hospital camp across the river, and soon after to the Finley hospital in Washington. He remained six weeks, and then came home on a 60-day furlough, dated Jan. 23, 1863.

Mr. Hitchings was never able to return to his regiment, and was discharged, as before stated. He went to the Massachusetts General hospital the following December, and a portion of the bone was removed from his leg. He came home to Salem, Jan. 18, 1864, and for a long time was obliged to go on crutches. Obtaining employment in the United States navy yard, Boston, he continued to work there until he received the appointment of inspector of customs for the district of Salem and Beverly, Nov. 19, 1873, he being detailed for clerk duty June 3, 1881, he was promoted to deputy collector, succeeding Col. J. Frank Dalton, who was appointed postmaster of Salem, May 7, 1881. Mr. Hitchings held the latter position up to the time of his death.

May 24, 1910
In Memoriam
A. Frank Hitchings

The death of Deputy Collector A. Frank Hitchings removes from Salem one of those characteristic figures we can ill afford to lose. Since William W. Oliver, the Salem custom house has had no officer so thoroughly imbued with a love of all that was best in the city's commercial past, so absorbed in his allotted work, so thoroughly familiar with the detailed knowledge which makes a functionary of his class invaluable. He had been identified with the government service long enough to become a part of it. Enlisting for the Civil war among the youngest, he encountered every peril and bore every hardship with a murmur, and, at the end of the struggle, brought home, like so many more, wounds which have slowly sapped the currents of his life.

Mr. Hitchings produced, four or five years ago, a complete abstract of all the ships' registers recorded at this port under the Federal constitution. The aid rendered by George H. Allen and Stephen W. Phillips enabled him to make this monumental work a unique contribution to the antiquarian resources of this region. It left only one thing to be desired. The lack of a single feature, an index to the names of owners and masters, was a serious handicap to its practical utility. Such an index would have been too bulky to be printed with the book, but without an index, curious descendants of the old worthies who made Salem famous could only trace the voyages of their ancestors where they knew before hand the names of their ships.

This task Mr. Hitchings set himself at once to supply. He had undertaken a card catalogue, already well advanced, which was to embrace, not only the ship's registers here since 1789, but also such earlier Salem ships as could be traced, besides the added tonnage of Newburyport, Gloucester and Marblehead. A good deal of material for this work was already to be printed. But the task awaits for its completion the time, energy, patience and skill of some public spirited deliverer in the hidden things. The student who takes up the task where Mr. Hitchings has left it, and carried in forward to success, will be able to congratulate himself, not only on providing ready access to the very tonnage owned by each merchant, commanded by each shipmaster, of Salem's palmy days, but also on completing a well earned monument to one of the modest, painstaking, earnest workers in the field of local research.

R.S.R. Salem, May 23


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. Heather, I would think the obit would be in a Boston paper. I have quite a few direct ancestors buried there (two to be shown tomorrow on TT), hum, we will have see if they are near each other. I haven't been in years.